November 25, 2010
Ti-Tho-- a dimunitive of the duo's Christian names, Christina Marisa Calcagno and Thomas Stelter-- formed in the early 80s as a part of the emergent Hamburger punk and New Wave scene. Like many other coagulations of disenchanted young people confined to urban centers, an assemblage of artists, musicians, and political activists began to stew in Hamburg. In the late 70s, Alfred Hilsberg, a music journalist for the magazine Sounds, coined the genre term, Neue Deutsche Welle, describing the attitude and sound of Hamburg's music scene in his article, "Neue Deutsche Welle - Aus grauer Städte Mauern" (German New Wave - From Gray City Walls). Speaking with several future luminaires of the genre, Hilsberg discusses in depth the distinctive effect German language and cadence had the NDW sound, and alludes to the environmental influence the fully-realized Economic Miracle had on Hamburg's middle-class.
Ti-Tho released their first 7" on Hislberg's Zickzack* label. The A-side is almost radio-friendly, but the strangely underrated B-side, "Die Liebe ist ein Abenteuer" pulses abrasively not unlike Crash Course In Science or Grauzone. In 1983, the duo moved to the larger TELDEC label for their more accessible but equally great second 7". Ti-Tho then signed to Polydor in 1985 and released two more 7"s in support of their big crossover LP which never came to pass. Not an altogether uncommon story. Very few New Wave bands survived the transition to a major label, and equal few of the cookie-cutter bands crafted in their image lasted any the longer. If you come to this post a neophyte in NDW, Ti-Tho's first two records are not only a great point of entry, but overlooked masterpieces of the genre in their right.
*In 1980, Hilsberg started the Zickzack label and released essential Hamburger NDW from the likes of Xmal Deutschland, Abwärts, Leben und Arbeiten, and Kosmonautentraum. In 1984, he started the What's So Funny About? label, which became a major platform for the emerging Hamburger Schule scene as well as a German imprint for Test Dept. Nikki Sudden, and Scratch Acid, etc.